desperate

adjective
des·per·ate | \ ˈdes-p(ə-)rət , -pərt \

Definition of desperate 

1a : having lost hope a desperate spirit crying for relief

b : giving no ground for hope the outlook was desperate

2a : moved by despair or utter loss of hope victims made desperate by abuse

b : involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration made a desperate leap for the rope

3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety desperate for money desperate to escape celebrities desperate for attention

4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster a desperate situation

5 : of extreme intensity … a desperate languor descended heavily upon her, and she slept … —Elinor Wylie

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from desperate

desperateness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for desperate

Synonyms

despairing, despondent, forlorn, hopeless

Antonyms

hopeful, optimistic

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for desperate

despondent, despairing, desperate, hopeless mean having lost all or nearly all hope. despondent implies a deep dejection arising from a conviction of the uselessness of further effort. despondent about yet another rejection despairing suggests the slipping away of all hope and often despondency. despairing appeals for the return of the kidnapped child desperate implies despair that prompts reckless action or violence in the face of defeat or frustration. one last desperate attempt to turn the tide of battle hopeless suggests despair and the cessation of effort or resistance and often implies acceptance or resignation. the situation of the trapped miners is hopeless

Examples of desperate in a Sentence

The collapse of her business had made her desperate. As the supply of food ran out, people became desperate. We could hear their desperate cries for help. a desperate struggle to defeat the enemy He made a desperate bid to save his job. They made one last desperate attempt to fight their way out.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Twelve boys, ages 11-17, and their 25-year-old coach hiked more than 2 miles into the labyrinth June 23, prompting a desperate search. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Race against the rain: With monsoons looming midweek, Thai cave rescue takes on urgency," 9 July 2018 After a desperate nine-day search, all were found alive, but Thai authorities are struggling to find a way to get them out of the flooded complex. Time, "A Former Thai Navy SEAL Has Died During a Rescue Mission for Soccer Team Trapped in a Cave," 6 July 2018 The result has farmers spending some $9 billion a year in a desperate search for the right mix of older and newer weed killers. Lynn Brezosky, San Antonio Express-News, "A&M cotton research could open new front in war on weeds," 5 July 2018 The teammates, who were trapped inside when heavy rains flooded the cave, were found by rescue divers Monday night during a desperate search that drew assistance from experts around the globe. Author: Tassanee Vejpongsa, Anchorage Daily News, "Warm in blankets, stranded Thai boys smile and joke with rescuer in cave," 4 July 2018 The teammates, who were trapped inside when heavy rains flooded the cave, were found by rescue divers Monday night during a desperate search that drew assistance from experts around the globe. Tassanee Vejpongsa, BostonGlobe.com, "Warm in blankets, Thai boys smile, joke with rescuer in cave," 4 July 2018 The teammates, who were trapped inside when heavy rains flooded the cave, were found by rescue divers late Monday night during a desperate search that drew assistance from experts around the globe. Tassanee Vejpongsa, Fox News, "Soccer players speaking from Thai cave say they are healthy," 3 July 2018 The 13 were located by rescue divers late Monday night in the cave in northern Chiang Rai province during a desperate search that drew international help and captivated the nation. Tassanee Vejpongsa, chicagotribune.com, "Thai official: Boys may have to dive from cave despite peril," 3 July 2018 The boys were found late Monday night during a desperate search that drew international help and captivated the nation. Tassanee Vejpongsa, Houston Chronicle, "Boys, coach in stable health after 10 days lost in Thai cave," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desperate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of desperate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for desperate

Latin desperatus, past participle of desperare — see despair entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about desperate

Statistics for desperate

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for desperate

The first known use of desperate was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for desperate

desperate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desperate

: very sad and upset because of having little or no hope : feeling or showing despair

: very bad or difficult to deal with

: done with all of your strength or energy and with little hope of succeeding

desperate

adjective
des·per·ate | \ ˈde-spə-rət , -sprət \

Kids Definition of desperate

1 : very sad and worried and with little or no hope People became desperate for food.

2 : showing great worry and loss of hope a desperate call for help

3 : giving little reason to hope : causing despair a desperate situation

4 : reckless because of despair : rash He made a desperate attempt to escape.

5 : very severe The injury is in desperate need of attention.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on desperate

What made you want to look up desperate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

by word of mouth

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!